We have a 60- acre Farm and Stables in Pulloxhill that benefits from super views across the countryside, there are 3 Public Footpaths that cross our land. On an annual basis I started planting trees on our land around 25 years ago, over time the trees developed, and it was clear that the tree planting was not just helping to improve the environment and ecology of the area but was creating an extremely pleasant place to walk. The footpaths are proving very popular with the villagers and walkers from surrounding areas as a favoured walk. Interestingly the increased footfall is not just dog walkers by people especially in the evening who take a walk and enjoy the Bedfordshire countryside.
It is noticeable that the amount of older people who walk the paths has increased considerably. I am changing the walks from being an “outdoor challenge” to a pleasant stroll for the less able or older community. Feedback from the people who use the Footpaths stimulated an additional desire to do more.
I found out about the tree planting scheme around 5 years ago from the CBC website, when I established contact with the CBC Sustainability Team, they were extremely helpful and supportive in further developing what I refer to as the Footpath Tree Planting Plan.
To the credit of the CBC Sustainability Team, they have never attempted to force me to comply with some bureaucratic standard but have worked with me in achieving what can only be described as a transformation from farmland with paths to an area that both meets the needs of farming and provides a place that many people enjoy. Focusing on the grant process, this is the fifth year I have used this process, it is straightforward and logical.
The 2022 planting plan: its currently overgrown, rough land that I have cleared and coppiced ready for planting, this will be the basis of improved visual and ecological area. Additionally, I'm having the surface levelled and stabilized to improve the paths that cross my land. FP3 links to FP 20 and the new planting will be a continuation of previous planting along Footpath 3, as mentioned the coppicing will help existing trees and hedges regenerate and the new (2022) planting will fill the gaps and exposed areas in addition to establishing environmental continuity and significantly improved habitat for birds and wildlife.
The main trees will be Pyrus Chanticleer with an upright, tightly branched habit. Ornamental pear is windproof, tolerates air pollution and is resistant to diseases and fire blight. These will be interspersed with Hawthorne and possibly River Birch and or Poplar.
I do not pretend to know the horticultural requirements for my land or its environment but get expert advice to ensure success, I view this as fundamental to ensuring the trees planted are successful. Planting and aftercare (important to water for the first two years) is done by the family although a number of locals have indicated a willingness to help with future programs. You should not underestimate the time and effort required in maintaining the previous year’s plantings, we spend a considerable time and effort watering during periods of drought.
I would encourage anyone, especially landowners/ farmers to use the Tree Planting scheme. It has enabled me to progress from an annual planting plan of around 20 trees per year to in excess of 50 each year. It is noticeable that the amount of older people who walk the paths has increased considerably alongside the level of respect that the walkers demonstrate.